The College of Policing has introduced a new standardised qualifications framework for all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
For Police Officers, this is enabling the police service to become a graduate profession, like teaching and nursing. Working with Higher Education providers, the College has also developed a full national curriculum to support Police Community Support Officer learning, accredited to a Level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice.
We are introducing the new PCSO apprenticeship in 2022
The course will take 12 to 15 months to complete.
It will be a mix of classroom learning, observation, 1:1 tutorship and practical experience.
All training takes place in Wiltshire and involves class tests, assignments, evidence based projects and reflection, to test knowledge and understanding.
Building on success
The new PCSO qualification has been designed to follow the first year of the Police Constable degree qualification which we introduced in June 2020, with the course adapted to focus on community policing.
Should you wish to transition to a Police Constable role once the programme has been completed, this learning and qualification can be mapped over to the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA). This would reduce the time to complete the Police Constable degree which is a BSc (Hons) in Professional Policing Practice.
Our training partners
We are delighted to be working with the University of South Wales to co-deliver specialist PCSO training.
For more information on the Level 4 Higher Education Certificate in Community Policing Practice and the new PCSO course handbook which is available to download, please visit the University of South Wales website
You will need Level 2 Maths and English (GCSE graded 9-4/A*-C or equivalent) before you start the training
You will also need a Level 3 Qualification – such as an A level at grade E and above, or equivalent qualification (16 UCAS points). If you do not have this qualification, you will be set an assessment paper so we can assess if you should be able to pass the assignments that you will be set during your initial training at the higher level. This Level 3 equivalent assessment will take place during the initial assessment process.
Applicants will need to provide proof of qualifications or commit to achieving them before the completion of the training.
Go to the Gov.UK website to find out what the different entry level qualifications mean.
You can obtain a replacement exam certificate or certified statement of results via the Gov.UK website
The course takes 12-15 months to complete and on completion, successful candidates will be awarded a level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice
We cover all your course fees
Applications can be accepted at the age of 17, providing you will be 18 by the time you are expected to start and have achieved the required qualifications. There is no upper age limit for applying to the police service. However, a PCSO is demanding physically and mentally and you will need to be reasonably fit and in good health. We welcome all ages - a diverse workforce reflecting the communities we serve is the best way to be effective. No matter your age, you bring important skills and perspectives that are key tools for being a PCSO.
You must be a British citizen, an EC/EEA national or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom. As we need minimum three years residential history in the UK to be able to complete background checks, foreign nationals and UK citizens who have lived abroad may have to wait some time for security and vetting clearance.
A number of crimes will mean a definite or likely rejection of your application, including anyone who has received a formal caution in the last five years, committed a violent crime or public order offence. If you are at all unsure, get in contact and ask.
Tattoos are very common; all tattoos that are reviewed to check appropriateness. Images that are grotesque, violent, have a strong religious or political connection or would undermine the dignity and authority of your role would not be acceptable.
Applicants will have their financial status checked. These checks are carried out because police officers have access to privileged information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption. Applicants with who have had County Court judgements or may be on a Debt recovery plan will be assessed on a case by case basis. If you have any concerns please ask before applying for more information.
To ensure you are fit enough for the role, you will undertake a fitness test. We are looking for no more than the minimum standard needed to enable you to work effectively as a PCSO. You will be given help to improve your fitness and if you prepare yourself properly, there is no reason for you to fail. You will need to complete personal safety training (PST) every year. It is your responsibility to keep yourself fit at all times.
PCSOs can encounter stressful situations, trauma, physical confrontation and work long hours on shifts. They need to be resilient enough to cope with the demands and pressures of police work. Applicants must therefore be in good health mentally and physically to undertake their duties. You will undergo a medical examination to ensure you meet the health standards required.
Applicants will have their eyesight tested at the medical assessment stage. You may be asked to go to an optician to have your eyes tested and the eyesight form filled in. Failure to pass this test will lead to rejection.
You can apply to more than one force at a time if you wish.
A one-year professional apprenticeship.
PCSO Apprenticeship starting salary and maximum salary to be confirmed
Is this the route for you?
Yes, if you would like to work in the role of a Police Community Support Officer, while studying for a level 4 qualification.
Before you start
To be accepted, candidates must meet the Force's PCSO eligibility criteria and successfully pass all stages of the PCSO recruitment process.
What's involved in training?
It is a minimum of 12-month programme, including academic modules, practical's, course work and exams. You will do this while serving as a student PCSO, with active frontline duties.
What's involved in the practical side of the training?
During your initial training period, you will have some practical courses including First Aid, Personal Safety Training and Driver Training.
You will also have observation days where you will be out in the community, observing the Community Policing teams in action.
Following your initial training you will have one to one a tutorship period, which will lead you Independent Patrol Status. (IPS).
Once IPS is confirmed, you will be posted to a Community Policing Team where you will continue to collect evidence towards your Operational Competence Portfolio as well as completing assignments.
What's involved in the Academic training?
The academic training is given by Wiltshire Police staff in Wiltshire, with a blended approach which includes classroom training, on-line training, self- study and self-reflection.
The key areas of study are:
Understanding the PCSO role
Valuing difference and inclusion
Maintaining professional standards
Decision making and discretion
Wellbeing and resilience
Vulnerability and risk
Information and intelligence
Evidence based policing
Victims and witnesses
Supporting communities and partnership building Response policing
Dealing with minor crime
Alongside these modules you will be expected to maintain a reflective journal, to gather evidence of experiences to create an Occupational Portfolio, and complete an end-point assessment to achieve the qualification which will involve a professional discussion and a presentation of a community based problem solving assignment ( development and delivery of a 15 minute presentation followed by 10 mins of Q and A)
The academic learning is in partnership with our Higher Education Institute Partner, the University of South Wales (USW), who set the in-class-tests and assignments, they are also responsible for the final award of the qualification.
Apprentices will receive support from an USW tutor with academic studies and from Wiltshire Police officers and staff with your operational role.
You will have regular meetings to discuss your progress and any support you feel you could benefit from with your line manager within the Force.
If there are any additional requirements (reasonable adjustments) needed to support your learning, there will be a needs assessment during the recruitment process. The Positive Action team can provide additional support for BAME candidates and those with Protected Characteristics who may need extra support.
The academic costs of this qualification are covered by the apprenticeship.
Will I be a serving officer as well as training?
Yes, you will be a PCSO from day 1 and for much of your time you will be in Force on frontline duties.
How much time will I spend studying in a classroom?
The apprenticeship mixes on-the-job training with off-the-job learning. During the first 12 weeks, you will have a mix of classroom and practical learning. After that, your experience will be mostly out of the classroom.
Will someone support me with my learning?
Yes, each recruit will be allocated a tutor. They will support you via email and face-to-face meetings.
What will I be assessed on?
Your practical work, assessments, course work, exams and end-point-assessment, following the USW curriculum for a level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice.
How long is my probation?
Probation is for 12 months. However the full training must be successfully completed and the qualification awarded. If this is not achieved, the Wiltshire Police Performance and Capability process will be followed which may result in dismissal.
What is the recruitment process before I start the Apprenticeship?
Before you start, you will be required to successfully pass the Assessment process, which tests for initial abilities including common sense approaches and reading and writing skills. You will also need to pass vetting and fitness tests before being enrolled onto the programme.
An assessment of academic need will take place to establish if you have any additional support needs (such as if you have dyslexia).
You will also be assessed to ensure that you are capable of achieving a Level 4 Qualification if you do not already have an A Level or equivalent qualification, totalling 60 UCAS points. Please note places are limited in each intake and enrolment is subject to availability. Candidates may experience a waiting period before being offered a place.
What age do I have to be to apply?
Applicants need to be 18 or older when you start training.
I don't want to study; can I join under the old scheme?
No, the old scheme is closed to new applicants, and will be replaced by the Apprenticeship for new students from 2022 onwards.
I don't have both Level 2 qualifications; can I still apply?
No, as you will be taking an apprenticeship and studying for a Level 4 qualification, you are required to have the minimum qualifications. There are free courses available to you to gain the Level 2 Maths and English.
Please see the Educational Requirements section for more information.
Do I have to attend a university for lectures?
No, all the training takes place in Wiltshire, lessons are at a Wiltshire Police site usually at Police Headquarters in Devizes, or may be delivered online
Do I have to pay for the qualification?
No, your qualification will be funded as part of the apprenticeship.